Nobody’s talking about bailing out newspapers. Some want to let bankers out on bail, courtesy of taxpayers. No matter how clumsy its leaders have been, Ford and General Motors and even Chrysler have a cheering section to set them free on bail. This stirs mixed memories in folks who bought unreliable American cars. I’m thinking of the Chevrolet Impala I bought in 1965. It broke down hours after I drove it off the dealer’s property, and was towed back there for the first in a series of repairs. A Plymouth station wagon, a couple of Buicks and an Oldsmobile continued the shoddy tradition.
Reliability appeared in the form of a Toyota station wagon I bought in Hawaii decades ago, followed by other Japanese vehicles and eventually the reliable American Saturn. The U.S. auto industry is big and politically powerful, but not loveable.
The communications industry, especially its ailing newspapers, has been dishing it out for so long that nobody gives a thought to bailing it out.
Given the number of respected business schools in the United States, and the number of MBA degrees granted by American universities, a person might wonder why nobody identified the massive problems that were developing in the dysfunctional finance industry. Even now, nobody knows what to do, except to try applying billions of dollars and if that fails, see whether more billions will work somewhere else.
The republic is not lost, even though the situation is grim. Huge numbers of people who are ready and able to work have lost their jobs. The pain is personal and growing. But a spirit of optimism was stirred in the election of Barack Obama, who combines the active ingredients of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Democracy has found a leader in the nick of time.